Story by Nancy Covert, Photo by Christina Klas
Virginia Maas of Tillicum marked her centennial birthday this past week. It was her wish to keep the occasion “low key.”
A life-long resident of the community founded two years before she was born, the regal-looking, spry woman marked the occasion by greeting a few friends and enjoying the greeting cards and floral arrangements that were delivered to her home in mid-August.
Jim Taylor, representing the Tillicum Neighborhood Association, presented a card signed by Neighborhood Members, and a commemorative City of Lakewood Commemorative Coin. Christina Klas served as “official photographer” for the occasion. Virginia’s brother, Gordon, (15 years younger) and his wife, Janelle, also were there.
Virginia, who moved to the northwest in the early 1920s with her parents from New Hampshire, married John Maas, son of their next-door-neighbor in their Woodbrook neighborhood.
“Before there was a freeway.”
During WW II, the couple “found themselves in the rental business in the 40s when housing for incoming GIs and their spouses was in short supply. Their property contained several small sheds. When desperate soldiers stopped by asking whether the Maases would rent the empty buildings, they reluctantly agreed. That was the start of a “rental” business that eventually grew to five properties.
In the 1970s, Mrs. Maas wrote about places and people around the area for the News Tribune’s Sunday magazine. Because she wrote so many articles, her editor suggested she use a pseudonym, so some of her stories have appeared under the name of “Jean Hargrove.” She estimates that she wrote about 350 articles.
She also wrote two novels: Castle Cragg: a Gothic novel set in Pt. Townsend; the other was “One Room and a Path” a fictional account about owning rental properties during WW II; that includes anecdotes such as an account about one tenant who used her downstairs wash basins as a “tub.” It also included the hilarious tale about a “can do” meal.
A third book, a saga about three families, she says will never “see the light of day.” “I could paper my walls with rejection letters,” she laughed.
“One Room and a Path,” is available through Pierce County Library System. The recorded book takes eight hours to listen to.